NEW ENGLAND MOTORSPORTS NORTH By Lou Modestino(for 4/30-5/2/10)
Over fifty (50) American Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Model teams are expected to battle the high banks of Thunder Road in Barre, VT for thirty (30) qualifying spots in the $25,000 Merchants Bank 150 opening event this Sunday, May 2, 2010 at the “Nation’s Site of Excitement”, Barre, Vermont’s Thunder Road.
Thunder Road presents a unique challenge for teams of the ACT. There are a large number of regular veteran touring teams entered, including, multi-time champions Brian Hoar and Jean Paul Cyr (the defending Thunder Road Champion). Joining them with plenty of experience are Brent Dragon, Scott Payea and Hudson, New Hampshire’s Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. These teams are joined by the Thunder Road regular weekly competitors, including three time champions Cris Michaud and Phil Scott, and former Thunder Road champion David Pembroke. Regulars Nick Sweet, Rich Lowery, Joe Becker, Matt White, Brooks Clark and Trampas Demers only add to the depth that the weekly racers bring to the Merchants Bank 150.
Defending champion of the Merchants Bank 150, Eric Williams from Hyde Park, Vermont said “It’s really tough to get the handle on Thunder Road for Tour teams that did not grow up racing there. Once you figure the track out, it can be a lot of fun, and the competition is always fierce, but Thunder Road regulars really have an edge over most of the touring guys, especially in qualifying”. Williams was also the 2008 “King of the Road” at Thunder Road.
Some of the touring teams have found success at Thunder Road over the years. “I really didn’t like the place the first time I was there, but I took it as a team challenge and decided we were going to figure it out,” said veteran racer Glen Luce of Turner, ME. “I wish I could tell some of the other Tour teams from Maine how to get around those high banks, and especially turn 4, but it is really something you have to feel to get any success there. I love the atmosphere at TR and just need to find some consistency,” concluded Luce.
The Merchants Bank car show will open the weekend in downtown Barre from 9 a.m. until noon. Over 100 race cars will be on display during this traditional free family show. A pit stop contest will take place at 10:45 a.m., and the highlight of the day is when the Pipers and Drummers line up the 100 cars at high noon. The race cars will “fire them up” and drive through the city and up Quarry Hill to Thunder Road. There is no other parade as unique as the opening Merchants Bank weekend parade for Thunder Road fans and competitors. A full afternoon of practice follows the morning festivities.
Sunday is race day for the 12th annual Merchants Bank 150 and starts with a Class Day Extravaganza with the presentation of 130 cars to fans beginning at 1:00. Racing starts at 1:30 p.m. Gates open at 10 a.m. Admission is only $18 for both days with a family of four admitted for only $35.
Fans at the opening events on the 2010 American Canadian Tour (ACT) will see a host of veteran returning drivers, along with lots of new teams—the most diverse group the popular regional Tour has seen since it started touring in 1996.
Five former ACT regulars from the past rejoin the 2010 Tour — Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, and Ontario are each sending teams who could have an immediate impact on the 2010 Tour season.
Seven-time Champion Jean-Paul Cyr from Milton, VT will drive for former racer, and now car owner, Gary Caron. “I am anxious to get things started this season. Winning the Thunder Road title last year was a huge goal, and I really enjoyed the weekly racing at TR, but I missed the longer distance races. The Tour has changed a lot since my last Championship run in 2007. I like the challenge of racing with guys like Brian (Hoar), Brent(Dragon), Joey Pole and Randy Potter. I am excited about working with Gary and Kyle Caron,” said Cyr.
Cyr will also have to contend with another veteran of earlier days on the ACT, Mark Lamberton from Mooers Forks, NY will be driving a team car for the Richard I. Green team (RIG) out of Enosburg Falls, VT. Long time RIG driver Joey Becker will crew the Lamberton effort, while Lamberton crews for Becker at Thunder Road. “We have really tried to give the boys whatever they need to be competitive this season,” said an excited Rick Green at the practice session held at Thunder Road a week ago. Lamberton is known as a ‘long track’ specialist, but after results from the TR test, it appears the RIG investment during the off-season has paid off. Becker, with the sister car to Lamberton, was the fastest and most stable car all day long.
Experience will not be lacking when Derek Lynch from Warkworth, ON pulls into the pits at Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY this weekend. Lynch was just 16 years old when he ran the old ACT Pro Stock Tour in 1988. He was mentored by two of the most notable racers of that time: Jr. Hanley and Robbie Crouch. Lynch was 10th on the all-time ACT money earned list in only 6 full years of racing – earning nearly $300,000. He also won races at Thunder Road and he won the Oxford 250 in 1994. Lynch moved on to race for a number of years on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series (formerly Busch East) and recently has spent several seasons racing throughout Canada on the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series.
One of the biggest surprises in 2009 was when Jeff Zuidema from North Brookfield, MA showed up at an ACT event. This multi-time Champion at Thompson Speedway in Connecticut has joined forces with veteran car owner Dave Maynard for the 2010 campaign. The team has a new car and new motor program for 2010. Zuidema is an all-star driver who has total focus on the ACT for 2010. With some limited experience racing ACT in 2009, the 42MA team hopes to challenge for some wins and a top finish in 2010.
Travis Adams from Canton, ME will join fellow Maine teams Glen Luce and Ricky Rolfe on the Tour this season. Adams has won the Oxford Plains Speedway (OPS) Championship a total of five (5) times, with four consecutive titles for the past four seasons. “We really want to try the Tour,” said Adams. “It will be a whole lot different, but our team has always enjoyed the challenge racing brings. We realize there is a big learning curve for us, but it is time for us to leave the comfort of ‘home’ (Oxford). At this point, I guess I am most looking forward to getting back to OPS in May and June,” laughed Adams. The colorful Adams team might just take full advantage of experience gained in the longer-distance ACT Tour events, when the TD Bank 250 comes around with the 2010 edition this July 18 at Oxford Plains.
The biggest battle of the summer season might just be the ACT Rookie of the Year title. A total of six drivers will test each other in the quest for the title. Bradley Babb from Windham, ME, is a skilled 17-year old chauffeur who raced at the Beech Ridge Motor Speedway under the guidance of former ACT Pro Stock driver and his father, Bobby Babb. Babb will be behind the wheel of the Sallie Bolduc 60 NH machine. Other Maine entrants are 18 year old Dave Farrington, Jr. from Jay and 16 year old Austin Theriault of Fort Kent. Twin State Speedway young gun, Chris Riendeau from Ascutney, VT made two ACT events in 2009 and will also compete for the coveted Rookie title. He will be joined by another Twin State regular in Aaron Fellows of Croydon, NH. The final Rookie contender is David Paya from Milton, VT. Paya has raced at Airborne Speedway and Thunder Road in the past and competed in minimum select ACT events in 2009.
“There are another half dozen teams that have entered the first several events and will ‘test’ the waters to see what it has to offer”, said ACT statistician Nick Bigelow. Maine entries include T.J. Watson from Cundy’s Harbor, a regular at the Wiscasset Speedway and a participant at the first ACT Invitational held last September at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. New Hampshire native Bryan Town has also entered the first races on the 2010 schedule.
Albany-Saratoga Speedway postponed last Sunday, April 25 Albany-Saratoga 100 due to impending rain in the forecast. It was scheduled to be the 2010 ACT Late Model Tour season opener. The event will be rescheduled at a date to be announced.
The American Canadian Tour (ACT) announced that the highly anticipated Ford Blue Oval Challenge winner’s share of the overall point fund has been increased from $3,000 up to $5,000 to win. A lucrative Ford contingency program was announced late last fall for the teams on both the ACT US and Castrol programs. Also, all Ford teams running at approved affiliate ACT tracks will be eligible to receive bonus money in the Blue Oval Challenge Cup portion of the overall program. Mike Delahanty, the Program Manager-Sportsman Circle Track Racing for the Ford Racing Technology Division of Ford Racing, announced last February the program for ACT Ford competitors. It is one of the richest contingency programs in the history of ACT with over $35,000 up for grabs among the region’s Ford crate teams.
“I know all the Ford teams that are associated with ACT are very appreciative of the support Ford Racing has given those teams that are supporting them,” said ACT President Tom Curley. “We have at least 10 teams that will be receiving points for this program in the 2010 season in both Tour racing and weekly racing. The jump from $3,000 to win the inaugural Blue Oval Challenge Cup to $5,000 certainly speaks to Ford’s commitment to short track racing in our region,” finished Curley.
Over the past couple of years, the Ford-powered S347JR was researched and developed by Ford racing with assistance from Butler & MacMaster Engines from Hallowell, ME. “We are excited to be part of the ACT Ford racing program,” said Dave MacMaster, the chief architect and the single individual most responsible for the 10-year success of the ACT GM type crate revolution, which has now become popular across the entire country. “When you look at the high caliber ACT teams that have taken on the Ford crates going into 2010, I think that is a very healthy sign for short track racing in our neck of the woods,” concluded MacMaster.
High profile teams like three-time Thunder Road Speedbowl Champion Cris Michaud from Williamstown, VT and fellow Vermonter, 50-year veteran Joey Laquerre from Barre, VT, will be joined by young superstar Joey Polewarczyk from Hudson, NH, and Lee USA defending track champion Wayne Helliwell, Jr. from Dracut MA. Also making the switch to Ford in 2010 are two former Maine champions, Glen Luce from Turner and noted car builder and nine-time Oxford Plains Champion Jeff Taylor from Norridgewock.
This Sunday the 12th Annual Merchants Bank 150 opens the ACT and Thunder Road 2010 seasons. The Ford teams will get their first chance to pick up a $500 dollar Ford bonus with a win, and they can make history as the first Ford ever to win an ACT Tour event— (Michaud won the first ever ACT Ford crate feature race at Thunder Road during the 2009 season). Posted awards total over $27,000 and over 60 teams from throughout the northeast and provinces of Ontario and Quebec are expected to attempt to qualify for thirty starting spots.
The winner will also be the first of the year to earn an invitation to compete at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the second ACT Invitational over the NASCAR Cup Chase weekend in September. Class day begins at 1:00 with post time scheduled for 1:30.
The 12th Annual Merchants Bank 150 at Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, VT becomes the 2010 ACT Late Model Tour season opener. It will also be the first event of the season for the Bond Auto Tiger Sportsmen, Allen Lumber Street Stocks and the Junkyard Warriors. Merchants Bank weekend kicks off with the downtown Barre car show from 9am to 12 noon on Saturday, May 1. The car show ends with the over 100 racecars parading up Quarry Hill to the track. The 12th Annual Merchants Bank 150 will be on Sunday, May 2 with a post time at 1 p.m.
There will be a new challenge for the American Canadian Tour (ACT) Thunder Road Late Model teams when they begin pursuit of the 2010 “King of the Road” title in 2010. With the announcement of the Sunday, May 23rd opening event at the newly renovated and paved Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Fair Haven, VT, the ACT Late Models from Thunder Road have been invited to compete at the historic speedway. It will be the first point-counting event of the season for the Thunder Road Late Models.
It all started with the announcement by the Champlain Valley Racing Association (CVRA) in the fall of 2009. The Richards family ownership intended to redesign both their dirt tracks for the 2010 racing season, converting them to asphalt. Sister track Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY was completed late last fall, and Devil’s Bowl expects to have pavement down the first week of May. It was a natural for the most popular asphalt Late Model division in the Northeast to join in the opening day celebration at Devil’s Bowl.
“We had already committed to run the ACT Late Model Tour at the Malta track, and with the increase of ACT US events, we were in some kind of bind when we found out Devil’s Bowl was also going to go through a conversion to asphalt, “ said Tom Curley, President of ACT. “We very much wanted to be a part of the Devil’s Bowl program, and the Thunder Road group of Late Model racers have all had plenty of ‘touring type’ experience over the years, so this became very doable. There are a lot of excited teams to be able to open the big ½ mile, and that is good for Devil’s Bowl and for asphalt racing in the region,” Curley concluded.
Three-time Thunder Road Champion, Cris Michaud from Williamstown, VT likes the new twist on having Thunder Road points awarded toward the 2010 Championship. “I think it is kind of neat that we get to open the new track. It will certainly be a change from the high-banked ¼ mile to the relatively flat half mile, but it should be fun. Our team is looking forward to the challenge,” said Michaud.
The 100-lap event will be a Devil’s Bowl traditional Sunday early evening ‘twilight’ race for the opening of the new facility. “We wanted to make sure we scheduled it early enough so that the traveling teams and fans that come and support our opening at Devil’s Bowl can get home at a reasonable hour Sunday evening,” said Jerry Richards, a CVRA partner and General Manager at Devil’s Bowl.
On Sunday, May 23, 2010, Front gates will open at 11 a.m. and racing will begin at 2:00 for the grand opening of the new Devil’s Bowl Speedway. Admission for the ACT Thunder Road Late Model 100 lap event is only $15 for Adults and Kids are free of charge. All the regular Devil’s Bowl divisions will also begin their season opening day.
On July 11, 1993, all eyes were on the Northeast as New Hampshire Motor Speedway held its inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race, the Slick 50 300. In arguably one of his most successful seasons, Rusty Wallace endured the 100 degree plus temperatures to take home the very first checkered flag at “The Magic Mile.”
Driving the No. 2 Miller Genuine Draft Pontiac owned by Roger Penske, Wallace qualified 33rd at the speed of 123.618 mph. With lightening fast pit stops and great strategy, he gradually worked his way to the front, taking the lead on lap 168. Rusty would lead the pack for next 75 laps until rookie Jeff Gordon made his move to the front. One lap later, Davey Allison showed everyone that he might have the car to beat.
It was the No. 2 pit crew that would make all of the difference for Wallace in the Slick 50 300. With just 29 laps to go, Rusty would take the lead after a pit stop which put him on the fast track to victory lane.
“I screwed up in qualifying, and we wound up in the back of the pack,” Rusty said. “Buddy (Parrott, his crew chief) chose to pit way down there in the last spot on pit road, sort of like back there in our own zone. When the race got under way, we really were in our own zone. The car was flying and we zoomed right on up there through the field. The pit stops were unbelievable all day and we kicked some major butt.”
Wallace took home the inaugural event trophy and a purse of $77,500. He would leave New Hampshire third in the series championship points standings. Rusty would end his 1993 season with 10 wins and a second place finish in the championship behind Dale Earnhardt. Be a part of racing history, purchase your tickets now for the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 on Sunday, June 27 and the SYLVANIA 300 on Sunday, September 19 .
Swanzey, NH., modified driver, Rob Goodenough returns home Saturday night and he could not be happier. Following a hard crash during practice at Waterford, CT., last month coupled with last weekend’s rained out program at Malta, NY., Goodenough will be pleased to wheel his Hamshaw Lumber sponsored, 1NH car, onto neighboring Monadnock Speedway this Saturday night May 1. That’s the next stop for the Modified Racing Series, sponsored by BobValentiAutoMall.Com.
The race, The Bond Auto Parts Spring Dash 100, is the third event of a 19 race schedule this season for the MRS and the first of two appearances at the Winchester, NH., oval by the popular open-wheel modified tour. The second event will take place July 3.
Goodenough is coming off his best season (2009) to date in modified competition. He was in the hunt for the series championship down to the final race of the season at Lee, NH., but ended the year runner-up to champion Jon McKennedy. He is a two-time MRS winner at Monadnock and the defending champion of last year’s spring race.
The Waterford crash, March 27, almost caused Goodenough his season before it started. He is quick to point out that the support of his family and fellow racers allowed him to make the trip to New York last week and be ready for this week’s race at Monadnock.
“The help with parts from Jacob Dore, (series driver) and his team, and parts and repair from Rusty Ball is the reason we are racing,” said the second generation driver. Ball is a longtime fixture in New England modified racing and one of the original competitors when the series started seven years ago. When called on, Ball has helped many race teams over the years get back on track.
This Saturday’s race is the 7th annual Spring Dash race for the MRS. Until last year, Kirk Alexander, W.Swanzey, and Les Hinckley, Windsor Locks, CT., were the only winners of the April event. Flip-flopping, Alexander won the inaugural in 2004, Hinckley won it in 2005, Alexander in 2006, Hinckley in 2007, and Alexander in 2008.
Expected entries for this weekends race include Alexander, an 18-time series winner at Monadnock, Hinckley, a three-time winner there, Dwight Jarvis, Ascutney, VT., a two-time series winner, Sean Bodreau, Claremont, NH., victorious in 2004, and Jim Boniface, W.Swanzey, NH., a 2006 winner.
Defending series champion Jon McKennedy, E.Chelmsford, MA., is entered and still looking for his first Monadnock victory. Race time is 6 p.m.
Here’s what else is going on in the North Country this week into the weekend. Street Night is on at the New England Dragway in Epping, NH on Wednesday and Friday nights at 5 p.m. Open Practice is set for Thursday afternoon at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Maine.That venue also hosts the PASS Tour all weekend.
On Saturday The Benning St. Grille in Bradford, VT offers a race car and radio show while Canaan Speedway’s dirt track has a car show. Lee USA in NH moves to Saturday night for its NASCAR program at 6 p.m. while New England Dragway offers testing all day. Kart practice is on tap all day at the Richmond Kart track in ME. Riverside in Groveton, NH has Rookie and Daredevil School early in the day and a Practice Session in the afternoon.
On Sunday Big Daddy’s Speedway in Wentworth, NH offers a Car Show in the afternoon. Hudson Speedway in NH offers stockcar action at 1 p.m. New England Dragway has testing on the dragstrip and a motoX event on the adjacent dirt race course starting at 9 a.m. Up in Hermon, ME stockcar racing is on tap at 1 p.m. The Topsam Fairgrounds has a auto swap meet all day. Winterport Dragway in ME also has a dragracing meet starting at 8 a.m.